Attachment Woes

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I think I’ve been struggling with attachment again. I wrote awhile back that I thought my husband had an attachment disorder (different I guess from the addiction, which is itself an attachment disorder). We went and saw our therapist and are soon starting a new therapy program–Emotionally Focused Therapy. I’m excited about it. I’m excited how to learn to better connect with my husband.

We try–but usually I feel desperate to connect and so I blurt out all kinds of things–trying to connect with him. Or sometimes we just have an issue to discuss and I say something that hurts his feelings or that he doesn’t agree with. When he’s hurt or feels rejected by me, he becomes like rubber and I’m glue. He’s really good at turning the tables–sometimes so subtly I don’t notice at first. Now though, I’m good at recognizing what’s happening and not being glue. I just try to (lovingly) detach. It still hurts to detach.

Detaching is common for me. I shut down and push people away when I feel hurt or abandoned as a way to protect myself from vulnerability.

I still remember so vividly the day when I was a child that my mom told me that something was wrong with my dad’s brain–he wasn’t like other dads, but it would be ok because he was going to a doctor to be “fixed.” I was devastated and felt so much shame for my dad. I began emotionally shutting my parents out of my life–they were not safe. Turns out, I believe my dad’s brain is pretty normal, although he has his own brokenness. But my mother has a personality disorder which prevents much healthy attachment with her. And it has been the cause of a lot of childhood (and even current) trauma.

Fortunately growing up I had an aunt that I was very close to–a second mother of sorts. Someone who could balance out some of the craziness and was a soft place to land. But a few months ago she became angry at me and some my siblings. She said some very hurtful things and we haven’t spoken since Thanksgiving. I’ve tried to reach out a couple times (mostly I’ve keep my distance though) and I think we are making progress. Still, it hurts.

I wonder why all of the primary attachment figures in my life are so broken. Is it me? I seem to be the common denominator. Most of the time I think I’d rather be all alone–it’s safer there. But then again, one is the loneliest number. Maybe everyone struggles with attachment–maybe it’s just part of the human experience. Or maybe it’s just me.

Here’s to you, Addiction

Dear Addiction,

I do not owe you any thanks. I do not owe you anything. I am not grateful for anything that you have given me. But, because of you I have gained many things and for those, I am grateful.

I have learned about shame. And now I can see more clearly why people act the way they do at times. I can see more clearly why I feel the way I do sometimes. I treat my children better–or I am more aware of how my treatment of them affects them. Shame was not something that I ever thought much about and now I see how it influences everyone. For that knowledge I am grateful.

Because of you, I live with much less fear. That certainly wasn’t the case at first, but now that I have looked fear straight in the face and stared it down, I’m not so afraid anymore. I still do have some fear, but I know that I can do hard things. I know that I will be okay–come what may. That is freedom and for that I am grateful.

I have learned to live in the moment. Not that I am good at that–in fact lately I’ve been terrible at it–but I’ve learned how to do it. I’ve felt the peace and empowerment that comes from fully experiencing the present.

Because of you I have met the most amazing people. I have heard their stories. I have been a witness to their experiences. I have sat with them in their pain. I have seen their beauty and strength. They have forever changed my life. I am so grateful to know them–even some of them only briefly.

I have come to know God more intimately. I have seen glimpses of how He sees me. I have learned to recognize His voice more clearly. I have learned that He is not judging my every move. I have learned that I can trust Him. I have learned why He gives me commandments. I have learned that there is a way back to Him, but there’s no way for me to get there on my own. I’m learning to surrender to Him. I’ve learned that His work is to save me and all His children. He loves me and everyone else too. As the handcart pioneers said, “The price I paid to know God was a privilege to pay.”

Because of you, Addiction, I have gained so much. And for that I am grateful.

Sincerely,

Me

Loneliness, My Old Friend

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After I found out about my husband’s addiction, I was plagued with loneliness. It was so lonely to not be able to confide in anyone. I isolated myself. I felt so lonely in my marriage.

Looking back, loneliness is something I’ve battled with my whole life. Like some people battle depression, addiction, or shame, I battle loneliness. Although, battle isn’t really the right word. It’s more like I succumb to loneliness often. Maybe it’s time to start doing some battling.

The problem with being disconnected from my husband right now, is the loneliness. It takes me out. I struggle with loneliness in other areas of my life too, for sure, but in my marriage it feels the worst. Anyone else gone to battle against loneliness? What helps you?

To Love Again

C. Jane Kendrick has been posting guest posts on pornography and sexual addiction on her blog this month. If you haven’t read them you can do so here. It is always incredible to hear other people’s stories. I am so amazed at how many of us are walking this road together, each on our own paths. I’m grateful for all the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve recently read on your blogs. This is too much to do alone–I know because I’ve tried to do it alone. So, thanks for walking with me. And thanks, C. Jane, for sharing our stories.

Here is my essay:

To Love Again
by Anonymous

To love and be loved was the dream of my young, romantic heart. And when I fell in love I did so with all my heart. To know and be known became my next dream. I gave myself completely. It seemed as though he couldn’t get enough of me. He wanted to know everything about me just as I wanted to know everything about him. We talked and talked and talked. It felt like magnetism between us: a constant pull to be closer and closer. It was like coming home. All the past hurts seemed nothing but a distant winding path leading to him.

 
So we were married. And then we had two years of newly-wedded bliss. And then real life caught up to us or so it seemed. There was always some excuse for the distance that seemed to be lurking between us. I often felt like I was swimming upstream. I tried and tried harder to live a “perfect” life. Somehow it never seemed like enough. But mostly we were still young and in love.
 
About seven years into our marriage, a nagging feeling and a tear-filled prayer led me to find pornography on our computer. How could this be? I confronted my husband. He looked right at me with big innocent eyes and lied.
 
When his “little problem” finally came out, I was devastated and also relieved. I was so ready to have a name to that feeling of inadequacy–so ready to do battle. And battle I did. There were passwords and articles and meetings with the bishop and a therapist. Until I realized that the “little problem” wasn’t so little. He was addicted to lust. And his addiction was just a mask—a cover-up of deep wounds, pain and shame. It seemed to attack me right in my core and threaten everything that was most sacred and dear to me—my family, my faith, my love, my very being. All those past hurts and childhood wounds broke free, mocked me and said, “It’s true—you are not worth it.”
 
Four years and an excellent therapy program later, we have done some serious battling. My husband is conquering lust. I am healing. But now that I finally do know him and everything about him, he is like a stranger to me. I fell in love with an ideal. And now, I ask myself if I can fall in love again? Can I know and be known by the real him? Do I believe in second chances and happily ever afters?

What is Missing?

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I keep thinking that there is something I am missing. It’s not like that crazy anxiety I used to get. Like when I’d wake up in the middle of the night in a panic that my purse was missing, even though I always keep it in the same spot. Sometimes I’d have to go check that it was still there before I could go back to sleep. But this isn’t like that.

Today he left in a huff. He hardly said good-bye. He was mad about his hard boiled eggs not peeling. I felt my old friend, Co-dependence, sneaking in: “He was probably mad at you. You did sleep in today. He’s tired of doing your job in the mornings. You shouldn’t sleep in, even though you were up in the night with the baby. He was up early and you should have gotten up to help with the kids and make breakfast.” So I try to peel the eggs. I suggest how to cook them next time. I try to fix it. I can’t handle his anger.

But I can deal with Co-dependence. I can have boundaries. Still, it seems like something’s missing. Like there’s just one (or two) pieces of the puzzle that aren’t fitting. I’m just not happy.

A few weeks ago we had a conversation. He said, “It feels like you’re just not in love with me anymore.” This I had known for awhile, yet hadn’t wanted to accept. It was so comforting to hear it from him. Yes, maybe that was it.

Sometimes I think it’s just that my expectations are too high. Maybe it’s a hormone imbalance. Maybe it’s my perfectionism getting in the way. Maybe I can’t forgive. Am I holding a grudge?

The other day I had a thought that maybe he has an attachment disorder. I looked up some articles online. It seemed to fit–to make sense to me. Maybe this was it. I suggested it to him with the intent that I would suggest it and then make an appointment with our therapist. I was going to leave it at that. But Co-dependence reared her head again. I knew I had hurt his feelings by again suggesting that he was broken. I thought I could handle a messy conversation about it–help him see it was just an idea. I could practice my boundaries. I wasn’t prepared, though, for his attack nor my emotional reaction. I turned into a sobbing, clenched-fisted heap of trauma.

And still something is missing.

S-Anon

I couldn’t think of a good title for this post.

After the new year I started going to a S-Anon group. I love it. I felt like I needed to keep moving forward in my recovery and I had been wanting to work a 12-step program. Everyone should work a 12-step program. It’s awesome.

Anyway, it feels so good to be back in a room full of women that share my experience. They are such amazing, strong and beautiful women. I love when someone shares and I think, Hey, me too! I love that we can nod our heads in agreement. It helps to keep me sane and give me perspective. I feels so good to not be alone.

I shared for the first time last night. I’ve mostly been quiet. I didn’t think I had much to share. And I still feel shy in groups of people. But it’s time for me to own my voice. So as I was sharing, I said something that I honestly had never thought of before–it came out of my mouth as though someone else was speaking it. I was sharing about how for so long I have been a caretaker in my life. I am the strong one–the rock. Everyone else can make mistakes, act crazy, etc. but not me. I have to be like the pillar holding everyone else up. Lately though, I’ve been giving myself permission to be human–to not forgive, to hold a grudge, to be angry, to feel sad, and mostly to hold my ground and not rescue everyone else. And I realized (this is the profound part) that I thought I was doing this for everyone else, but really I’ve been doing it for me. My own perfectionism is what’s causing me to be the pillar, not other people.

So there’s my truth and now I’m on to conquer (or at least improve) my perfectionism. I realize not that it is affecting lots of areas in my life.

My New Name

The bible has many examples of people taking on new names. My favorite is in Mark 3:17. I’m not sure when my therapist first introduced the name or if he even coined it himself. I do remember when it became my name.

My husband went to Boot Camp and had an awesome spiritual experience. Now, he’s not one (or wasn’t one I should say) to be very spiritually in tune. Kinda hard to be given his circumstances. But while there he had a vision of sorts. He imagined me with a sword giving battle to a host of demons all by myself.

When he came home and told me about this experience, I was deeply moved and humbled. I interpreted this as God’s own view of me. This is how he saw me. This is what he thought of me. This was me. And I took on the name Warrior Princess. Since, I added the rest of the name Warrior Princess aka an undercover agent in the Army of God.

I am God’s girl. (Hence the Princess part.) I am an agent, meaning I have a mission–an assignment–a battle to fight. I fight for my own heart and my family’s hearts. I fight the devil himself daily. I am a warrior in God’s army. I am skilled in spiritual warfare. I am undercover, because quite frankly, not many people know who I really am. And I doubt many people would suspect who I am. I seem like the most typical Mormon Mommy. I am nice. I am cute. I am quiet. But I am Warrior Princess.

Here’s a little video clip to give you an idea of what I mean: